Williams opens doubles play with her sister Venus on Wednesday.
Williams will face world No. 2 Annette Kontaveit of Estonia in the singles round of 64. It was their first professional meeting.
After early struggles with her serve on Monday evening, Williams took 10 of the final 13 games against the 27-year-old Kovinic of Montenegro, ranked 80th in the world.
After the match, during a ceremony celebrating her tennis career, Williams said she was encouraged by the vocal crowd of nearly 24,000. “The crowd was crazy,” she said.
Williams double-faulted twice in the first game, but eventually raised her first serve percentage to 66%. He won 33 of 43 first serve points.
A key moment came in the sixth game of the first set when Kovinic was leading 4-2. But a Williams shot that didn’t look long and wide didn’t skim the back of the baseline and the outer edge of the singles sideline. It was the first of 11 straight points for Williams.
It was Williams’ third match since announcing her “retirement from tennis”.
“I don’t like the word retirement. It doesn’t seem like a modern word to me. I was thinking of it as a change, but I want to be careful about how I use the word, which is something very specific. And important to a community of people,” Williams told Vogue earlier this month. said in the article.
“Evolution is probably the best word to describe what I’m doing. I’m here to say that I’m moving away from tennis and evolving towards other things that are important to me,” he said.
In his post-match press conference, he was asked if this was definitely his last match.
“Yeah, I was pretty vague about that, wasn’t I?” She said with a smile. “I’m going to be vague because you never know.”
But earlier in court, Williams, 40, said moving forward was a difficult decision.
“I think when you’re passionate about something, when you love something so much, it’s always hard to walk away,” he said. “Sometimes I think it’s harder to walk away than not to walk. Same for me.”
When asked by Gayle King what future success holds for her, Williams pointed to her venture capital firm and said she wants to work on her spiritual career.
Williams’ singles victory was witnessed by her husband, Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter, Olympia, who wore white beads in her hair reminiscent of Williams’ appearance when she won the first of her six US Open titles as a teenager in 1999. .
“I’m looking forward to waking up and, well, I don’t have to run to the court today,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to being a mom. She’s a good girl. I want to be a good mom to her.”
On Monday, Ukraine’s Daria Snigur defeated seventh seed Simona Halep of Romania in three sets 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 in qualifying to enter the tournament.
“This match is for Ukraine, for my family, for all the fans who supported me. I want to thank everyone,” said an emotional Snygur.
This is Snigur’s first Grand Slam at this level. She won the Wimbledon women’s singles title in 2019.
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.
“Total coffee maven. Extreme web geek. Award-winning explorer. Travel aficionado.”